At this point we need an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of how many blog posts Paul Krugman has written, regarding the lessons we are to draw from the Reinhart-Rogoff fiasco. But this one really amused me, when Krugman explained:
Notice, however, that the problem with the original wasn’t that it failed to convey the nuances. The problem was that it was just plain wrong — wrong about America after the war, wrong about what a debt-growth correlation means. (It turns out that there was other wrongness too, but that was enough).
So the moral of the story should not be, “Don’t take strong positions”. It should instead be “Don’t take a strong position that some people want to hear if the position isn’t supported by theory and evidence”. Or maybe, even more briefly, “Don’t pander”.
And the trouble with where I think [Tyler] Cowen, at least, is going is the apparent suggestion that everyone who develops a prominent public profile in economics has to do it by pandering. No, they don’t — and specifically, I don’t think that’s what I do. I’ve taken very strong positions over the years; I’ve been wrong on some occasions; but I can’t think of any cases where I took a stronger position than my actual beliefs warranted.
Yes, I imagine the following remarks (just off the top of my head) all flow straight from an IS-LM model:
==> November 2012: “The truth is that the modern GOP is deeply anti-intellectual, and has as its fundamental goal not just a rollback of the welfare state but a rollback of the Enlightenment.”
==> May 2010: “A funny thing has been happening on Capitol Hill: lately, the Democrats have started exceeding expectations. Health reform, pronounced dead by all the usual suspects, happened (all hail Nancy Pelosi, arguably the greatest Speaker ever.)”
==> August 2009: “That said, Ben Bernanke’s performance over the past year deserves praise, and there’s nobody I’d rather have in his position. Congratulations, Ben.”